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Governors step on anti-Obama message

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) talked up his state's growing economy last night.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) talked up his state's growing economy last night.Associated Press

In June, the Romney campaign took an unexpected complaint to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). Apparently, Florida's economy was improving, and the Republican presidential campaign hoped Scott would downplay the good news, at least until after the election.

It's a problem that came up quite a bit last night in Tampa.

At the Republican National Convention, a number of swing-state GOP governors have boasted of the strength of the economic recovery in their states. But there's a catch: This might actually be great news -- for Obama.

It stands to reason that governors would deliver speeches talking about their own successes, and that's exactly what they did -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) talked about all the economic "progress" his state has seen in recent years; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) stressed his state's falling unemployment rate; and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said her state's economy is finally "on the right track."

Virginia Gov. Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell (R), who already credited Obama with boosting his state's economy earlier in the summer, boasted about the state's growing job numbers.

To put it mildly, this isn't exactly consistent with the larger Romney message.

As we discussed in May, many of the nation's key swing states -- Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania -- are led by Republican governors, each of whom are eager to tell their constituents that the economy is looking up. They're hoping to boost their own fortunes, but inadvertently, they're also helping President Obama in an election year in which the economy is the nation's top issue.

Obviously, these governors don't want the president to get credit for the fact that the economy improved after his administration and congressional Democrats pulled the nation back from the brink of a catastrophe. But that doesn't change Romney's central challenge: telling voters in these key states not to believe their lying eyes.

"As the governors keep telling you, things are obviously getting better," the Romney argument goes, "though I need you to believe they're getting worse." It's no easy task.